Pasta

A 30-Minute Creamy Mushroom Pasta With a Secret Ingredient That Makes It

One chef shares his favorite restaurant dish.

September 27, 2018
Photo by Jenny Huang

A while back, I worked at Table & Apron, a produce-driven restaurant set in the sleepy suburbs of Kuala Lumpur. During my time there, I fondly remember serving up many super jazzy Asian-influenced dishes. Think lemongrass-brined fried chicken, pork ribs with a kicap manis glaze, and fern salads laced with fish sauce and calamansi. All these dishes were amazing in their own right, but the one dish that I kept sneaking mouthfuls of during service (I call it quality control) was this funky, creamy mushroom pasta—with miso!

Besides its alliterative allure, miso and mushrooms are two umami-heavy flavors that are often employed to uplift any dish. So when put together, they work in tandem and complement each other so well, creating a massive umami bomb that leaves you salivating for more.

At the restaurant, we start off by tempering the miso with butter and cream, giving it the form of a rich, funky sauce. The mushrooms, a classic ingredient in creamy pasta dishes, are then sautéed and added to this creamy base. The third component of the dish—the pasta—serves as a vessel for the mushrooms and sauce to adhere to. So the more sauce you manage to get onto your pasta, the better.

Even after eating countless bowls of this pasta at the restaurant, I never seem to tire of it, and it really has become my ultimate comfort food. And it isn’t just me who is obsessed with this dish. At the restaurant, this umami-laden pasta is the second most popular dish, dwarfed only by their fried chicken—because, well, it’s fried chicken.

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Top Comment:
“I also infused the cream with a concentrated mushroom stock I make from all the stems I save in the freezer from mushrooms I use all week. I make a reduction stock at least once a month, it keeps well in the fridge or you can freeze individual "insta-packs" using ice cube trays. A good parma or romano cheese puts this dish over the top!”
— Bob Q.
Comment

Contrary to the belief that restaurant-quality dishes require incredible finesse to cook and take hours to prep, all that's needed for this miso pasta is 30 minutes and a few simple steps. With just three straightforward components—sautéed mushrooms, a miso sauce, and pasta—the key lies in the proper treatment of each component, cooking them with the utmost care and respect and allowing their flavors to really develop and shine.

During my time at Table & Apron, I’ve picked up three important tips that can elevate this dish to restaurant-worthy status:

  • First, when sautéing the mushrooms, it’s crucial to not overcrowd the pan. Treat each piece of mushroom like you would a steak. You want to have a bit of space in between each piece of mushroom, giving it a nice golden sear, as opposed to having a mound of mushrooms in the pan which would give you soggy, steamed pieces of fungi.
  • Then, for the miso cream sauce, it helps to whip the butter with the miso paste until it becomes a smooth, almost fluffy paste. This ensures you don’t end up with big, salty lumps of miso speckled throughout the dish, and makes it a whole lot easier for the sauce to emulsify later on.
  • And finally, the pasta. Most sauce-based pasta recipes expect you to know exactly how many minutes it requires you to make the sauce, so that you can time your pasta to finish cooking just as your sauce comes together. Otherwise, the pasta will turn cold as you’re still busy prepping the sauce, in which case you’d proceed to reheat it in the sauce and probably end up with gloopy, overcooked pasta. There’s an easy solution to this that doesn’t require you to be a chef version of Dr. Strange: Cut down the pasta cooking time by a minute or two. Though the pasta will have a tad more bite than the revered al dente, once the sauce comes together, you can add the pasta in and put it on the heat for a little longer for that final bit of cooking.

Et voila! You’ll end up with a beautiful sauce and perfectly cooked pasta.

Have you ever added miso to your pasta? Let us know in the comments below.


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17 Comments

Lisa W. October 18, 2018
Easy, delicious, and a big hit at my house. Used white miso because that's what I had--still really good. Will get the red to try next time.
 
cooking44 October 16, 2018
I made this last night and it was a big hit. I mixed the miso with the butter and added some of the hot pasta water as suggested and didn't bring it to a boil. Definitely will make this on a regular basis.
 
Jodi F. October 16, 2018
I just love it when the author takes time to respond to comments and questions! Thank you.. :)
 
Author Comment
Yi J. October 20, 2018
That's so sweet of you, this made my week! Thank you!!!
 
Bob Q. October 15, 2018
This recipe is a big 'yummy'. I used a mix of giant shitakis sliced into slivers, lions mane and cremini (thin sliced) mushrooms, doubled the cream and used a tablespoonful of Sweet Marsala or a medium sherry or a sweet vermouth to balance the vinegar. I don't like the chopped up mushrooms either visually or flavor wise. I also infused the cream with a concentrated mushroom stock I make from all the stems I save in the freezer from mushrooms I use all week. I make a reduction stock at least once a month, it keeps well in the fridge or you can freeze individual "insta-packs" using ice cube trays. A good parma or romano cheese puts this dish over the top!
 
Author Comment
Yi J. October 20, 2018
Ooh that sounds super!!! Love a bit of marsala or sherry in everything. ;)
 
Kristina B. October 15, 2018
Oh, pasta again. Can you do anything else?
 
Author Comment
Yi J. October 15, 2018
Haha it's actually my first pasta dish on the site! But yes for sure, there are a few other things on my recipe list. (My favourite is the Salt-Baked Chicken. :) ) Do check it out!
 
Gay C. October 14, 2018
Can someone let me know if I should be using light or heavy cream for this dish? TY
 
Author Comment
Yi J. October 15, 2018
Hello! I like mine with heavy cream, but light cream definitely works too if you're looking for a lighter dish.
 
Bob Q. October 15, 2018
Use heavy cream, not whipping cream and definitely not a milk of any percentage. Light cream is ok but keep hour eyes on it so it does not start to separate...ditto for any x% milk they will curdle and break the entire sauce. Cream will not curdle when heated.
 
Margaret K. October 14, 2018
Miso isn't supposed to be boiled -- it kills the healthful lactobiotic quality. Could you mix the miso with some of the cream and add it at the last minute?
 
Author Comment
Yi J. October 15, 2018
Oh yes I never considered that. Thanks for bringing this up. And yup that should work, though I suspect the sauce won't be as smooth as the miso won't be emulsified as well into the sauce.
 
Michael D. October 14, 2018
Jun. Can you explain what you mean by whip the butter and miso. Do you mean whisking them together in your sauce pan, or whipping them, say in the mixer w spatula attachment, to blend both together, before it even hits the sauce pan w cream?
 
Author Comment
Yi J. October 15, 2018
Yup you can just whip the butter and miso together by hand with a whisk before heating it in the saucepan. It just helps with the emulsification slightly, but it doesn't take too long for it to come together so there's no need to beat it in the mixer, saves on the clean down.
 
FrugalCat October 10, 2018
I used white miso (that's the only kind I had) and it was great. I used farfalle pasta and a mix of mushrooms (super cheap from the Asian grocery store). Perfect side dish (dinners must have some meat at my house, thanks to my old-fashioned husband).
 
Anastasia E. October 2, 2018
Could you use white miso?